Vitamin E is active only in its natural state (designated by the way we write its name a d-alpha tocopherol), that it is a vitamin largely depleted from modern diets owing to food processing methods, and that vitamin E acts as a “protector” of the body cells whenever oxygen is present.
We will explore the heart of the Vitamin E, and how it affects our circulatory health.
Vitamin E Helps Manage Cholesterol
Vitamin E heads the list of nutrients that assist in cardiac health (heart and circulatory) by protecting our arteries from the damage caused by LDL cholesterol plaques and by actually helping to lower the body’s overproduction of cholesterol.
Most people think “cholesterol” by its very nature is the major villain in cardiac and arterial disease, but it is not “cholesterol” itself that is to blame – rather the type of cholesterol and what the body does with it.
Scientists recognize several types of cholesterol. The “friendly” sort is called HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) and the unfriendly sort, LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein). Both types are manufactured by the body in the human liver so that when there is little cholesterol eaten in the diet, the liver makes more.
The fat soluble vitamins E, A and K stop the liver from manufacturing too much cholesterol. If these nutrients are in good supply a balance is maintained.
Vitamin E Protects Arteries
Arterial damage and the formation of hardened plaque deposits that cause “hardening of the arteries” occurs when lesions are created within the layers of the artery walls.
These lesions are fostered by excessive LDL cholesterol bang imperfectly controlled by our hardworking white blood cells which try to “eat” the excess LDL but often fail to do a complete job before swelling up and thickening into what are called “foam cells“.
When oxygen reacts with these “foam cells” they become rancid and hard. The end result is an arterial plaque that pushes out from the arterial wall to obstruct the open channel that is our blood vessels. Imagine rust deposits developing inside water pipes and you get a rough picture of plaque formation.
Scientific studies now show that if enough Vitamin E is present to counteract the oxidative damage that occurs on the “foam cells”, then plaques do not form. Remember, LDL cholesterol is a special unfriendly kind of fat and when it goes rancid the damage starts.
That’s where Vitamin E comes in; it prevents the fate from going rancid. In doing this service for us, Vitamin E itself is destroyed so new supplies need to be available in the diet daily.
Dr. Cooper states that what we learn from our new understanding about the role of antioxidants in preventing cardiac disease does not mean that cholesterol levels are no longer important.
What is more important is understanding how antioxidants (Vitamin E in particular) give protection against free radical damage and also benefit our cholesterol levels by reducing the overproduction of cholesterol in the liver.
The preventative supplemental dosage rates for Vitamin E according to current recommendations are a minimum of 400 daily and in some instances higher depending on one’s level of exercise, dietary considerations, age, and other risk factors.
If one is in a high risk category with a family history of heart disease, it would be well to consider taking Vitamin E. If one is already taking any heart medication, however, it is always important to discuss any additional supplementation with one’s physician.
Keep the “E” in your heart.